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Moral FailureOn the Impossible Demands of Morality$
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Lisa Tessman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199396146

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199396146.001.0001

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Moral Dilemmas and Impossible Moral Requirements

Moral Dilemmas and Impossible Moral Requirements

Chapter:
(p.10) (p.11) 1 Moral Dilemmas and Impossible Moral Requirements
Source:
Moral Failure
Author(s):

Lisa Tessman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199396146.003.0002

Chapter 1 introduces the concepts of impossible moral requirements and unavoidable moral failure by reviewing and rethinking the philosophical debates about whether or not any moral conflicts are genuine moral dilemmas. When a moral conflict occurs and one chooses to fulfill one of the conflicting requirements, the other requirement thereby becomes impossible to fulfill. What happens to a moral requirement that becomes impossible in this way? The chapter claims that some moral requirements, those one can call negotiable, can be negotiated away in the course of resolving a conflict, while other moral requirements, which are non-negotiable, remain binding no matter how the conflict is resolved for the purpose of deciding which action to perform. After discussing moral value pluralism, the chapter argues that non-negotiable moral requirements—which concern significant values for which there can be neither substitutions nor compensations—remain binding even if they become impossible to fulfill.

Keywords:   moral dilemma, moral dilemmas debate, moral conflict, moral requirement, ought implies can, moral value pluralism

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